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Gold Price Preview: April 29 - May 3

Good morning traders, welcome to a very crowded preview of the week ahead’s macroeconomic calendar. After holding up well in Sunday evening trading, gold prices are down roughly $5 from last week’s close as we begin Monday’s US session.

When it rains it pours, so after a couple of quieter weeks the next five trading days are packed with economic data points. Let’s dive in.

US Economic Data to Watch

Monday, April 29 at 8:30am EDT // Personal Income & Spending (Mar)

[Income consensus expectations: +0.4% MoM // previous: +0.2%]

[Spending consensus exp.: +0.7% MoM // prev.: --]

Monthly Personal Income and Spending, in my experience, is one of those data sets that only really impacts markets if it comes in sharply negative; that shouldn’t be the case for the March numbers. With Personal Income notching up a somewhat uninspiring 0.4%, most analysts expect Spending to move up as well based on the strong March Retail data.

We don’t have previous-month data for Personal Spending because February’s numbers are also being reported today as we (finally?) catch up on reporting delays caused by the government shutdown in January.

Monday, April 29 at 8:30am EDT // PCE Price Index (Mar)

[headline consensus exp.: +0.3% MoM // prev.: --]

[core consensus exp.: +0.1% MoM // prev.: --]

Expect muted recent CPI and PPI inflation data as well as import prices to pass-through to muted PCE numbers for March as well. This should further confirm the Fed’s ability to leave rate hikes on hold for much—of not all—of this year, leaving gold prices without the directional push/pull that rate cuts/hikes would provide.

As with Personal Spending, the previous month’s (February) PCE data is being delivered today as well. This might muddy the waters around the data release as the market digests and compares the extra information.

Tuesday, April 30 at 9am EDT // Case-Shiller Home Price Index (Feb)

[consensus exp.: +0.3% MoM // prev.: -0.2%]

The Case-Shiller Index has been trending downward from a peak over the last three months. Analysts are looking for a slight increase this time around. With recent housing data—regularly a leading indicator for the health of the US economy—coming in as a bit of a mixed bag recently, a large miss to the upside or downside of expectations could have an impact on gold markets as a strong number would imply a stronger Dollar while a weaker one would put pressure on the Greenback and allow gold prices to rise.

Tuesday, April 30 at 9:45am EDT // Chicago PMI (Apr)

[consensus exp.: 59.0 // prev.: 58.7]

Analysts expect Chicago PMI to be relatively flat vs. last month’s report, which was a 6-pt drop. As other PMI measurements have weakened in recent months however, this particular report has mostly remained at or above 60.0, so there is some potential for a “catch-down” in this data which may, in immediate trading, provide a boost to gold prices, as would any new signs of slowing in the US economy.

Wednesday, May 1 at 8:15am EDT // ADP Employment Report (Apr)

[consensus exp.: +180k // prev.: +129k]

The stunningly low numbers that we saw in Initial Jobless Claims in recent weeks should have some pass-through to the April ADP data, so there’s real potential for a number as high as 200k. Anything near that, or above it, would put pressure on gold prices as the US Dollar surges at least initially after the data is released.

Wednesday, May 1 at 10am EDT // ISM Manufacturing PMI (Apr)

[consensus exp.: 55.0// prev.: 55.3]

ISM’s Manufacturing Index, the key indicator of health in the US manufacturing space, has been trending downwards since September of last year. This time around, even the most optimistic predictions are only for relatively flat month-vs.-month data, which should be negative for the Greenback and positive for more risk-off assets like gold.

Wednesday, May 1 at 2pm EDT // FOMC Rate Decision

[no policy change expected]

Everybody and their mother are calling this a non-event meeting and, while taking the big contrarian bet is sometimes fun, that’s almost certain to be the correct prediction. The statement will have to make some acknowledgment of recently stronger than expected growth and still weaker inflation. In the press conference, Chairman Powell may end up feeding more questions about rate cuts than rate hikes.

Thursday, May 2 at 8:30am EDT // Initial Jobless Claims

[consensus exp.: +220k// prev.: +230k]

Understandably, three weeks of historically low Claims numbers was followed-up last week by a big uptick. This week, the market is looking for the data to normalize back to the 200k level, which should be a non-event for gold or Dollar markets.

Friday, May 3 at 8:30am EDT // Non-Farm Payrolls (Apr)

[consensus exp.: +185k// prev.: 196k]

We saw Non-Farm Payroll numbers normalize in the March Jobs Report following a quarter’s worth of wildly swinging headline numbers; this month, the market and most analysts are pricing in the same steady line. All other inputs being equal (or at least reasonable,) the math on NFP reports is pretty simple for gold traders: more jobs than expected pressures gold prices lower; fewer jobs added lifts gold prices.

Friday, May 3 at 8:30am EDT // Unemployment Rate (Apr)

[consensus exp.: 3.8%// prev.: 3.8%]

It remains difficult to see headline unemployment moving below the currently levels, but at the same time there has been virtually no input into the data that suggest it will start moving higher—yet. The view for gold traders on this one is, for now, a little murkier than trading the NFP, as sub-4% unemployment, while implying positive motion for the US economy and its Dollar, also brings in questions of where inflation is heading and how the Fed might act to counter it.

Friday, May 3 at 10am EDT // ISM Non-Manufacturing PMI (Apr)

[consensus exp.: 57.0// prev.: 56.1]

As opposed to the manufacturing-focused vintage of PMI, the service sector in the US has seen slightly more positive regional reporting over the last month and so the ISM measurement is expected to reflect that. Following a monthly Jobs Report, I wouldn’t count on this line item having any real impact on the market, however.

Friday Fed Speak

Just a couple days after the FOMC meeting we have the first public comments from some of the voting members on Friday which, depending on how the meeting and presser shake out, could be worth the market’s attention.

  • 10:15am EDT – Chicago Fed President Charles Evans
  • 11:30am EDT – FOMC Vice Chairman Richard Clarida
  • 1:45pm EDT – New York Fed President John Williams

Global Economic Data to Watch

Tuesday, April 30 at 5am EDT // Euro Area GDP (Q1)

[consensus expectation: +0.3% QoQ// prev.: +0.2%]

While growth seems to be persisting (in the US) or returning (in China) through the rest of the world’s major economies, there have been virtually no signs of it on the European continent in the first quarter of 2019. That narrative is expected to be confirmed in this week’s data. As close as expectations are hewing to 0.0%, anything measurably lower than expectations could threaten gold prices (as the Euro currency would likely sell-off.)

Thursday, May 2 at 7am EDT // Bank of England Rate Decision

[no policy changes expected]

Especially with Brexit “postponed” for now, this is mostly just a check-in for those of us not trading Sterling or GBP-denominated assets. It should be an orderly, fairly uneventful meeting.

Friday, May 3 at 5am EDT // Euro Area Inflation (Apr)

[headline consensus exp.: +1.6% YoY// prev.: +1.4%]

[core consensus exp.: 1.0% YoY// prev.: +0.8%]

Friday morning’s European Inflation sets up much like Tuesday morning’s European GDP data, with analysts expecting few signs of improvement as the core economies of Germany and France work to keep the struggling periphery afloat. As with Tuesday’s Q1 GDP the risk here for gold is weighted towards the downside where, should gold prices be trading at a vulnerable level around support, the EUR-selling that would accompany a negative miss could significantly weaken gold ahead of Friday’s US Jobs Report.

And that, traders, is your very busy macroeconomic calendar for the week. I wish you all the best of luck out there, and I’ll see you back here on Monday for a recap of the week in gold markets.